Paint It Right! The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Right Type And Shade Of Paint

When it comes to homes, colours go a long way in building a pleasant ambiance or atmosphere in the home. Most of us become adventurous when it comes to choosing the colours for our walls, with a particular image in mind. More often than not, the final outcome turns out to be disastrously contrary to our expectations. We also tend to be inadequately informed regarding the type of paint that suits our requirements, and enhances the colours we've chosen.

So, how does one get the desired results? Well, it may sound complicated, but it is not... Well, like there are only like distemper and texture and then enamel and emulsion to pick, or yeah the luster paint and those which are shinny or the ones which are matte!

Err... Hang on... 

Let’s Simplify Choosing The Right Type Of Paint For Your Home:

Before choosing the appropriate shades for your home, it is necessary to understand the types of paints available. The type of paint you chose determines longevity and appearance.

Types of Paints

Paints are classified into two major types, based on composition:

  • Oil-based: Oil-based paints take time to dry, have an attractive gloss, and are easy to level.
  • Water-based: Water-based paints dry quickly and have low levels of toxic emissions.

They are further categorised into multiple types. The following 6 types are used commonly in Indian homes and offices.... So, here goes! You can even jump to our quick visual guide below.

1. Distemper Paint:

Distemper is a water-based paint, and the cheapest kind available in the Indian market. Traditionally, the application of this paint used to be referred to as ‘whitewashing’ the walls. However, these days, it is available in a variety of colours. It provides a matte finish to the walls.

distemper paints on the walls

Although considered durable for 4-5 years, distemper has low resistance to moisture and peels off easily when wet, thus making it non-washable. A low quality distemper tends to leave stains akin to a chalkboard, when touched. Also, the appearance of a whitewashed wall is rarely attractive.

Good quality distempers can be used in areas hidden from public view, like attics, over-head shelves of your storage units, etc.

2. Emulsion Paint:  

Emulsion is a quick drying, water-based paint, and offers a rich, matte finish. Unlike distemper, emulsion is relatively resistant to humidity, and washable to an extent. Emulsion can be applied to any surface, and when compared to oil-based paints, also releases less VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) thus making it less toxic.

VOCs are chemicals that easily evaporate at ordinary room temperature, and are harmful to human health.

emulsion paint type

Emulsion paints, however may dry slowly in an environment with high humidity.

3. Enamel Paint:

Enamel paint is an oil-based paint, and provides a rich, glossy effect. It takes longer to dry, and is largely resistant to moisture and mildew. It is quite easy to clean and extremely durable. The most common form of enamel paint is oil paint - the typical shiny coat of paint often found on metallic surfaces and doorframes of older homes.

enamel paint sample

Enamel paints tend to have nasty odours, and cause skin irritation. Owing to its easy to clean characteristic, it is usually applied on walls of busy areas like passages, kitchens, etc.

4. Luster Paint:

Luster is a variant of enamel paint, but of better quality. It provides a pearl-like finish with a slight sheen, but not as glossy as oil paints. It has high resistance to moisture, fungus and mildew.

luster paint sample

Luster paint is more expensive as compared to enamel. It is best suited for rooms used for social gatherings and other busy areas, since it is easy to clean and has a smooth finish.

5. Texture Paint:

Texture paints are applied using rollers, putty knives, trowels and brushes, to create desired textured patterns on walls. These have become extremely popular, with people opting for one textured wall which becomes the ‘show wall’ in their homes.

Generally it is the wall behind the TV unit or a wall that faces the entrance of you home, or bedrooms, etc. some even tend to get it done for a portion of the ceiling.


These paints are the most expensive of the lot and it available in both variants - Water-based and Oil-based.

6. Cement Paint:

Cement paint is a water-based paint. It is mostly used as an exterior paint, owing to its durable nature. Since it prevents water penetration and is resilient to heat, it is often used on walls exposed to the elements, such as those in a patio, sun-deck, etc.


Now that we know about the various types of paints, the next step is to choose the right shade or colour.

Or, not yet.... There's something else!

Choosing the right colour depends largely on the decor, room orientation and overall brightness. It is necessary to keep a few things in mind before proceeding to the next step.

Things To Be Considered Before Choosing The Colours:

what paint to go for - mistakes to avoid

1. Room Orientation and Sources of Light

The effects of colours depend on the play of light and shadow in a room, based on its architecture. For maximum impact, it is necessary to choose shades that maintain a favourable balance.

It is essential to consider the impact of direct light, if your room is exposed to natural light. Also, the various artificial sources of light such as incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, LED, etc. also have influence on the colours you choose. You can learn more about it here.

2. Mood

Ever thought why discs and rock concerts tend to have more of purple, blue, red and violet shades of light? That's 'coz these colours help tune your mind to the fast, loud and energetic rhythm... They basically get you in the mood for such high energy events.

The relationship between colours and human emotions is a well-researched subject, and must be considered before choosing shades that are appropriate to different spaces. You might want your living room to be a warm place with loads of positive energy, and your bedroom to possess calming and may be sensual undertones. By choosing the right colours, one can manipulate moods.

Worried about how to understand the impact of colours on your mood? Well, your interior designer would help you with that - provided you got an expert!

3. Fixed and Furnished Elements

Fixed and furnished elements constitute the decor in a house. Since these elements possess colours of their own, it is ideal to choose the shades for your walls only once you have finalised the decor you wish to have. There is nothing worse than a beautifully painted house, with mismatched furniture and accessories.

The appearance of a colour can also change drastically based on its placement in relationship to other colours in the room.

4. Textured Walls

If you choose to have a textured wall in the room, it is ideal to choose a pattern that complements the overall appearance of the room. The other colours in the room must also be chosen with equal care.

Once these basic factors have been taken care of, you are ready to go ahead and decide the colours.

Choosing The Right Colours

  1. In India, Vastu is referred to extensively, for its insights on architecture, design, layout, etc. This science also extends to the choice of colours to ensure an atmosphere conducive to a peaceful home. Different colours inspire different emotions. Red causes excitement while blue has a calming effect. Yellow cheers up, while purple depresses. Choosing the right shades and hues is necessary to achieve maximum impact.
  2. It is better to avoid loud colours, or simply restrict them to a specific wall. Understated shades work better to accentuate the decor of the room - Pastels are a good option!
  3. Good quality paints are expensive, and redecorating a house can be a cumbersome affair. You won't be doing it very often.... It is ideal to choose colours and paints that would last for a longer period of time. Choose wisely, not impulsively.

Avoid common mistakes by noting the tips below:


Tip #1: Never pick the shade first

Most people tend to choose a shade before the interiors have been decided upon. It is not a bad thing to visualise your home, but ideally the shade of the paint should be chosen after you’ve planned the rest of the decor and furniture. This will make it much easier to choose a paint to complement the decor and not the other way round. Also, choosing the shade beforehand makes the rest of the process difficult, since one becomes rigid to alternative perspectives.

Tip #2: Don’t go for bright and saturated colours

This is another mistake which should be avoided. Yellows, greens, even reds all look good - lest they aren’t bright and eye catchy. Opting for neutral hues is the way to go and also allows your furniture and decor shine through.

Tip #3: Test it out first against the walls with respect to your decor

Get small patches actually painted on the wall to understand exactly how a paint looks like on the wall. You may like a shade in a shade card, which is a small rectangular block, but when actually applied to an entire wall, it might appear a lot different.

Tip #4: Most importantly, think long term

The most important part in choosing the right paint is to think long term - You like a shade now, but will you be able to live with it for the next 5-7 years? Also, the type of paint you choose would influence the cost of your interiors, but do not pick a wrong type.

For example, going for distemper in living room or passages is not a great idea, since these walls will be dirty pretty soon and would be hard to clean. Again, do not opt for texture paint for more than one wall in your living room, as it may tend to become an eye-sore looking at these for a long time! So, pick wisely.

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An expert interior designer will help you in not just identifying the type or shade of paint, but also with how to get your entire abode to look stunning, within your budget.

Wondering where to find one?

And... here's a quick visual guide which you can download as a handy reference of simply share it with friends!

Choosing the right type of paint for your home - a visual guide